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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Felonius Monks: A Criminally Open Thread

Jerry Moran and Georgianne Nienaber are in trouble, because they took pictures that BP wouldn’t like.  What particularly irks me is that they are in trouble with the US Government, the Coast Guard specifically, and are facing felony charges for photographing scenes like a doomed dolphin swimming in oil (Moran) or a pelican wading in crude (Nienaber).

This stinks to high heaven, but you don’t have to tell poor Flipper here that.

I am assuming that some legislation regarding operating procedures for at-sea disasters somehow gives BP authority to tell the Coast Guard what to do.  I’ve seen contractors on boats including Coast Guard employees apologize because they have to do what BP dictates.  I’m even willing to believe that the laws involved were intended to have some positive impact on the management of such disasters – I leave it to the experts to explain all that.  But BP seems to have found a way to use these laws to limit the Fifth Estate and therefore limit awareness of the realities on the ground.

We know the pattern with these folks by now: it’s whatever-the-least-amount-we-can-get-away-with barrels per day; it never crossed our minds that anyone would want to see the video of the leak (oh, you mean you want the HD feed, too?  really??).

There is something about the rules running this situation, though, that seems to have given control of civil forces to this (foreign national) corporation, and that corporation is using that control to limit the public knowledge of events in – and the condition of – public lands.

This has to change.

Right now we have our free press facing charges for performing a service so essential it was recognized by the founding fathers.  The free press is in our culture what the shaman or monk or priest has been throughout history – a voice asking us to look beyond our daily lives and see ourselves in context.  

Healthy cultures don’t jail their monks.


  1. She also ignored the fact that the Coat Guard, had she contacted them, would have escorted her into the same area that she took it upon herself to go into.

    I am going to respectfully disagree with you on this. She can write what she wants, she could have taken her pictures with an escort to make sure that she didn’t disturb the booms with boat wake–which then lets in more oil that will only worsen the cleanup–and she could have easily contacted folk from the number that the Coast Guard has provided on the notices.

    I have heard a lot of folks up in arms about this, how the 20m exclusion zone inhibits the population of the Gulf, but the scale of this clean up is just that large. And 20m helps keep the rubber neckers and  the well intentioned but none too professional the heck back from a work site.  The same rules keep folks away from other active work sites, and there are more than a dozen sites around the East Coast that have similar zones, and without hubub about “freedom of the press.”

    She has not been inhibited from publishing. She has not been inhibited from her voice, she is being charged for violating a zone, and documenting her activity IS admissible in court. Freedom of the press is the freedom to publish, not the freedom to go anywhere she likes.  

    Cooper Anderson has made a good deal of hay out of this, but ignores the fact that the rules have been in place for some time before this accident.  It is to keep folks away from an active worksite, for their own safety as well as workers.  That the scale of the operation is so damn big has folks boggled, and I can understand this, but I have to go with the Coast Guard on this, because they have folks ready to help journalists get into the very sites that they’d like to go to, if they only contact the CG first.  

  2. …and the fact that it’s British Petroleum, led by asinine toff CEO makes me even more angry.

    We experienced one disaster, Piper Alpha, when BP was drilling on the North Sea, but most our major oil catastrophes have been from passing tankers. Images of the Torrey Canyon were etched on my childhood mind.

    I’m not absolving BP or it’s subcontractors of any responsibility, but we’ve also got to look to the legislative framework which allowed such negligent idiocy to happen. I’m not sure about this, but I guess the US – which is generally less stringent on a lot of environmental issues compared to Europe – has a more laissez faire attitude, especially when it comes to drill drill drill:

    But I wish I could change my moniker whenever I see these upsetting images of environmental degradation and ecological disaster.

    Sorry, guys. All I can say is that a lot of UK pension funds are paying for this error, since they invest in BP as a blue chip reliable stock – and it’s tanked in recent months.  

  3. DTOzone

    she called me complaining about the Asians in her neighborhood and used a racial slur for every type of race you can imagine, even saying she called her Asian-American Councilman a racial slur and was proud of it.

    She complained about immigration, said if the boys fighting overseas could see how immigrants “rape” the country, they would be disgusted and that America is not worth fighting for anymore with all this “foreigners”

    In the middle of the conversation she asked if I was white, I responded with a hesitant yes,

    “Oh I figured,” she said. “You sound smart, you must be white.”

    yeah…America! Fuck Yeah!  

  4. sricki

    there is so much weird and wonderful in this world. It boggles the mind…


    91-year-old Pennsylvania widow Jean Stevens says she’s extremely claustrophobic, so the thought of her husband and her twin sister spending eternity in one of those confining underground coffins was simply unbearable. Besides, she really wanted to still be able to see them – and, yes – talk to them.

    And that is why, when her husband, James, died a decade ago, and again after her twin, June, passed away last year, she managed to have their graves dug up and their bodies returned to her home, where could see them – and yes, talk to them.


    The strange thing is, I’m not that disgusted by that story… I just feel really bad for the woman.


    Beaufort County sea turtle lovers say nesting is nearing record levels this year, leading them to hope efforts to protect the threatened animals are paying off.

    On Hilton Head Island, 163 nests have been spotted so far.There were180 in 2009.In 1999, 218 nests were discovered, the most in any season since counting began in 1985.

    “It’s still really early in the season,” said Amy Tressler, manager of the Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Project. “We’re very, very optimistic about what’s going on this year.”

    Fripp Island and Hunting Island State Park report increases over last year, too.Statewide numbers are strong as well, said DuBose Griffin with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

    Mitch Helms, a ranger at Hunting Island, said 79 nests have been found there so far this year, one fewer than in all of 2009 and 19 more than in 2008.

    “Most turtles only nest two to five years, so we think it kind of goes in cycles,” he said.”We’re happy about what we’re seeing here.”

    Island Packet (local)

    Weird and Wonderful:

    The mating habits of deep-sea squid have been revealed for the first time, after the discovery of a male squid with a huge elongated and erect penis.

    The male squid’s sexual organ is almost as long as its whole body, including the squid’s mantle, head and arms.

    That shows how male deep-sea squid inseminate females; they use their huge penis to shoot out packages of sperm, injecting them into the female’s body.

    The discovery may also help explain how giant squid mate in the ocean depths.


    And as an aside — music truly does soothe even the most savage amongst us, doesn’t it? Fairport Convention: Fotheringay:

    I have this weird urge to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — wonder if I can get my crappy, defective DVD player working…

    Hope all had a fab Fourth.

  5. fogiv

    Knowing my love for things w/ strings, my Mom asks, “do you want this old ukulele I have in the closet?” Turns out to be a nearly pristine 1957 Kamaka soprano, handmade of Acacia koa. Awesome.

    There must be an errant meteor w/ my name on it. Enroute.

  6. HappyinVT

    ESPN has completely overblown the LeBron James story.  A one-hour special and umpteen hours of coverage since then.  I’m soooo over the “over-priced athlete changes team” thing.

  7. HappyinVT

    the president pisses off the Republicans by daring to make a recess appointment, a federal judge declares DOMA unconstitutional, an appeals court refuses to reinstitute the deepwater drilling ban, the Yankees look like they’re getting Cliff Lee (who says money can’t buy you love), Hubie comes back, LeBron disses Cleveland, the US and Russia swap spies, 55% of likely voters think Obama is a socialist (even though I doubt they know what a “socialist” really is), Sam the cat removed several keys from my laptop and I still cannot find the left arrow key while the F5 key won’t stay put.  But it’s only in the 80s so yay!

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